Lock & Load

Yesterday was one of the worst days of work ever. In addition to it just being totally nuts and out of control and violent for 10 hours, some kid got her hand crushed in our big, magnetic doors that go outside. Every door in every unit on the entire campus locks from both sides, and every staff has a master key that works for all of them. But they lock through these weird magnet things mounted on then, and they’re extremely heavy and spring loaded that they won’t stay open unless something equally heavy can prop it (I guess this is partly because of the magnets and partly for protective purposes).

So, we have two fenced-in yards in the crevice part of the L-shaped building where the ends of two separate units meet. When kids get particularly violent, sometimes we can just do a “transport” with two people and toss them outside, since we’re a lock-down facility; they can’t get out of the yard, though many have tried. That’s particularly useful when kids are setting up the entire unit and it looks like things could blow and then you have a small mutiny on your hands. And no one wants that.

So, on the unit that adjoins the unit where I usually work is the SCIP unit, where the worst of the worst kids go. And not always the “worst” in terms of behavior, but the ones who need the most care: the hyper-violent, yes, but also the psychotic, and the ones that need the most one-on-one attention. For instance, this is the only unit of 4 on the campus where the “staff counter,” where the computers, phones, etc. are kept, is enclosed in the same unbreakable plastic that is all over the rest of the campus where you might normally find glass, such as on windows. In every other unit, the counters are open. I cut my teeth on this unit when I first started working there, and I’ve occasionally had the opportunity to go back and work a shift, or part of a shift, but I don’t relish it.

So last night I came in from doing a restraint on one of our own kids in the hall, when my boss asked if I could go over to SCIP and help them out. I could already hear the blood-curdling screaming echoing off the walls, so I groaned and said, “Sure,” because that’s what you do. I knew shit was going down, but I didn’t know what.

So I get over there, and there are only two boys on the unit, but they’re going batshit crazy, and there are already 3 male staff over there trying to make sure they don’t get violent. I became the fourth. Just outside the door leading to the yard was the new girl, who’s completely insane, lying on the ground, screaming like she’s being tortured, surrounded by several staff, a nurse, and a therapist. As it turns out, they were tossing her outside (which, as it turns out, is against regulation….) when she ran back toward the door (which they always do when you throw them outside) and someone slammed it – catching her hand. Which then became stuck because the doors automatically lock because of the magnets. The kids in general there get very protective of each other when they’re not trying to kill each other, and when one kid gets genuinely hurt, they other kids freak out and think the staff are trying to kill them. (I won’t even go into the restraint I had to do with another staff a few weeks ago outside on a teenage boy who had a bloody nose that eventually got blood everywhere, and the kids starting ganging up on us because they thought the staff had bloodied him up, and there were no other staff around to help us, and it was really scary. And gross.) Which is why the two boys on the unit, two of the most violent and aggressive and crazy on the whole campus, were freaking out. The situation was eventually defused.

I don’t know who slammed the door on her hand, or what’s going to happen to them, because the girl is in DHS custody, and someone’s head will have to roll for it. But at least two of her fingers were crushed, literally, everything ripped off down to the bone. Gone.

To give you an idea of the environment in which I work, when the Team Leader for that unit came back inside and I asked if there was anything further I could do to help, she very matter-of-factly said that after they took her to the hospital, someone needed to clean up the large pool of blood on the step outside, and the chunks of skin that were all over the door. Then smiled at me.

Which immediately made me queasy, combined with the chilling screams I’m sure the entire city was hearing, and as soon as possible I sneaked back to my own unit and avoided any further blood or chunks of skin cleaning up duty.

Being physically and verbally assaulted non-stop by 11 pre-teens was preferable to that. This is what I do for money.


One response to “Lock & Load

  1. Jesus Christ.

    Um, I’m going to quit being angsty about my job for a bit now.

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